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Penalties on smokers and the obese

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Old 01-28-2013, 11:19 AM   #1
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Default Penalties on smokers and the obese

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Faced with the high cost of caring for smokers and overeaters, experts say society must grapple with a blunt question: Instead of trying to penalize them and change their ways, why not just let these health sinners die prematurely from their unhealthy habits?
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/n...sense/1867201/

I'm not going to speak to smoking because I don't have personal experience, but exactly how do they think penalties are going to help people lose weight? More of the same old, same old assumptions that losing weight is easy and people who are overweight or obese just don't try. If they can "cure" obesity, them maybe you can incentivize people to take advantage of that cure. But until then, this just makes it even harder for people to lose weight, which often already costs a lot of money in higher quality foods and/or various support and diet programs.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:35 AM   #2
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People should not smoke!

Eating on the other hand, everyone has to eat. AND.... genetics does play a part of your build and body type. Extreme overweight is one thing, but my father is 6'2" and about 230 lbs, he is a retired NYState Trooper, was in the Korean war , worked another job after retiring fron the State until he was 70, he is a very healthy 82, only been in the hospital once in his 40's for gallbladder, he would put most 40 yr olds to shame, yet he is considered in the obese catagory, he is 1 of 9 children, only one is dead and all 9 are well into 70 and 80's and healthy, except they are stocky, like me. My mom has died and she was thin and had all kinds of health issues, but she was a smoker too. Interesting Topic!
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:03 PM   #3
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Right, so in the middle of a recession where people will eat the cheapest thing available in many cases, everyone is more stressed and more unhappy because of unemployment, lack of job security, rising consumer prices and stagnant (if any) wages - and surrounded by obesity-inducing fast foods, screeds of additives in "normal" foods - and feeling more "stuck" in their problems than ever surrounded by an economic system and food industry that sets people up to fail... Anyone can honestly see this as an answer?

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Old 02-02-2013, 07:30 PM   #4
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Interesting article, thank you for sharing. I just read more than half of it out loud to my husband as I got more sad the more I was reading. (My concentration was on the obesity part as neither of us ever smoked.)

One of the sole qualifying markers for me to get fertility treatment is my BMI. Granted I want to be a healthy weight for me and my baby if I should ever be lucky enough to get pregnant, don't get me wrong. But the fertility doctor specifically said it's against hospital policy if your BMI is over 40 and it's non-negotiable regardless of any other factors. Thank God I worked my tail off to get barely under that now but it made me sick that I am literally a number on a chart, nothing else about me or my health matters. In my case, it incentivized me to work harder and lose more weight but I'd have to say in this case I am probably the minority. My want for a baby is more powerful than any food I could eat at this point.

My husband is considered overweight at 200lbs and 5ft9. I can't see where he really has any weight to lose unless he's supposed to be a toothpick even though his stocky build would look like a skeleton if he could even lose more.

I want people to all be healthy but I am not sure "just letting them die" is really the answer.
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:42 PM   #5
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and the fertility stuff is BS, I know people who are extremely obese that got fertility drugs and procedures, some insurance companies just want to keep getting richer and not pay for things & some doctors need to get off their High-horses. I am with you, you do want to be a healthy weight for your babies health, but if these Insurance companies only want to "cover" perfect people, why are we required to have insurance? it is all about the almighty $$
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:53 PM   #6
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Interesting article. I feel like passing the costs off to smokers is only right, it is a habit they chose (I am a quitter), knowing full well what would happen. No one is impervious to the chemicals produced by smoking a modern cigarette. Obesity is similar in that it's been defined as a lifestyle disease. It happens presumably because we overeat, put something into our bodies that we shouldn't. I'm not arguing that, but who gets to determine the numbers and percentages when it comes to rising costs. My goal is 145, but I would be happy for 160. I know that I will be very healthy at this weight, but would I be penalized by my insurance provider because in their doctor's opinion I could stand to lose 15 pounds? Many of you have bought up similar questions in this thread.
Also, the article states that there is a correlation between lower income and obesity/smoking. Our society is so backwards at this point I don't know what to say. We are the only developed nation in which the poorest people are the most overweight (and still have money to buy cigarettes). It makes no since at all and speaks volumes as to how broken our system is.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:12 AM   #7
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Perhaps the government should stop *subsidizing* all the cheap, processed food and then trying to tax us more for eating it. 80-85% of all the processed foods in our stores are made from cheap, government subsidized GMO corn and soy. We pay them -- through our taxes -- to do it and then they want us to pay them for eating it. And people "buy" this???
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:48 AM   #8
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I think it goes beyond the subsidizing but that would be a good start. I think really focusing on nutrition (and cooking) in school would help as well. I'm in my mid/upper 30s and you know how many people in my age group and younger cook? Not as many as you'd think. I know ton of people that live on takeout/restaurant food. I even recently found a grocery store dedicated to prepared foods. More grocery stores should return to the bulk bins they had when I was young which now you only find in more expensive stores. You know how cheap whole grains and dried beans are? They are also filling and nutritious. Even at the expensive stores I can find them for 99 cents/lb (and up).
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:11 AM   #9
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I feel as a society we have abandon our own accountably for our own actions.
We make bad decisions in our life then expect others to pay the freight on our choices and outraged if people comment what their tax dollars are going for.
We think that the government should fund all these programs .
Years ago a man would not take a wife until he could support a wife.
Years ago parents would sacrifice to provide for there family,it wasn't noble it wasn't selfless it's just what you did.
As a parent it's my job to oversee my child's food choices..and monitor their activity level. When my kids were young I use to jumprope and roller skate ,play tag and go to the park ...all are cheap.
As a nation we have gotten away from common sense that are Great Grandparents used.
I would much rather to be held accountable for my own choices ,the politicans will go with which ever the wind blows .
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:00 PM   #10
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Well we live in a different era than our great grandparents. An era where parents are reported for 'child abuse' if their child walks home from school. When I was young, very few kids were bussed to school. Also, we have cut funding for physical activity in school which is where it is needed most. And the government subsidizes the primary ingredients of processed foods, so much so that few farmers in the US grow crops for human consumption, which also drives the price up. If corn/soy wasn't heavily subsidized, maybe farming for human consumption would return rather than farming for animal feed/processed food ingredients.
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:24 AM   #11
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Having been a smoker and obese, I feel I can comment on both. Both of these problems are a direct consequence of me being clinically depressed for significant portions of my life. I try to get help, but help is limited and there's a serious stigma attached to being prescribed to anti-depressants. It's often been much easier for me to self-medicate with food and smoking. You can say what you will about smoking and I do know it's bad, but I could have chosen to self-medicate with alcohol as many people do (as my father did) with long reaching consequences for my son. Yes, I've made behavioural choices, but as we all know this gets pretty murky. If all of us were great at making health choices all the time, we wouldn't be on this forum. This doesn't make us bad people or undeserving of things that other people can take for granted.

In the UK anyway, I have paid and paid in taxes for my cigarettes and I'm quite sure that I've more than paid for any healthcare I've consumed - very little of which has been smoking related (a few sinus infections that I'm sure I was more susceptible to because I smoked - although I did suffer from them before I smoked) - that's not to say there won't be something down the line.

And as for obesity... well....I've never received anything more than a ticking off for that.

It's easy to pick on smoking or obesity - but then you look at people like my step-father. There's absolutely no telling how much he's cost his insurers in the US for skin-cancer, but still kept fishing without sunscreen or a hat after having malignancies removed. He was treated for bone density problems but refused to do any weight bearing exercises - only sucked up prescriptions. I'm not actually picking on him - I'm just saying that humans are notoriously bad for not doing their best. And that while it's quite easy to pick on some 'self-inflicted' behaviours...there are many more to choose from.

And right now - only a month smoke free and with a BMI of 39+ - I might be a prime candidate for a 'just let her die' approach. But I'm active and have a five year old son. What would be the long term societal cost of refusing to treat me? What would happen to my son?

And I'm starting to play rugby, too. Should the NHS refuse to treat me if I break a collar bone? And if they did - should they refuse because I'm fat or because I play a mad game.

And I'll tell you something else... I know people and have worked with people who make policy on public health. They get squeamish about talking about obesity policy if there's someone fat in the room - but the last thing you can be is squeamish when you're making public health policy. I've been in some of these meetings - no one, not one person, has ever asked me why I'm fat or what would help me be less fat. There they had a person who could give them insight into the condition and nothing...
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